Friday, May 10, 2013

The Joy of Passing on a Godly Heritage

Our granddaughter Rilyn Rebekah
     Once again, the baby monitor came to life.  I rolled over and looked at my clock.  It was 4 a.m.  Our dear little granddaughter either had a bad dream or her gums were sore from teething.  I got up to see if I could calm her and soothe her back to dreamland.  Her parents had taken her brother on a birthday trip to Disney World, so I had the pleasure of watching over this little princess along with Papa.
     As I looked in her crib, her little face was wet with tears.  I bent over and wiped away the tears then whispered that it was all right.  I softly stroked her face with my hand and continued to speak in a calm voice.  At that moment, I remembered my mother doing the same thing to quiet me when I was little.  I often had trouble going to sleep and my mother would stroke my face and sing a song softly until I drifted off to sleep.  Here I was doing the same thing for this precious little gift of God.  Passing on love, comfort and  the godly heritage that I received is the ultimate blessing for me.  There are many simple things we do every day that convey the love of Christ to our children and our grandchildren, but we sometimes think we are not leaving a mark.
     When I was a little girl, my parents frequently visited with my grandparents on their farm.  My Grandfather Engel would often read to me from his Bible.  I may not have understood all the big words but I grasped the importance of this holy book that he read from all the time.  Before taking his nap in the afternoon, he would kneel by his couch and pray.  Once again, I was eyewitness to someone who loved the Lord.  He died while I was only 6 years old, but I will never forget him.  At his funeral in the church he served as lay minister, I remember well the hymn "The Old Rugged Cross" being played.  My mother told me it was his favorite.  To this day, I recall the hymn being sung at this service, and the simple things he did which passed on to me a godly heritage.
     Home life also provided me with many basics on which to hang my faith.  My parents attended church and took my sister and I each week.  We attended Sunday school and the worship service.  Before I was able to read, I simply opened the hymn book and babbled along.  If I got too loud, I was told to sing more quietly, but I remember well the beautiful voice of my mother as she sang.  I was inspired just listening to her.  She and my father made certain that I learned the catechism when it came time to join the church.  At each meal, we said grace and thanked God for the day.  In fact, we actually ate together and talked about our day.  All these things are simple.  There was nothing magical about any of them, but each activity prepared my heart for the day when the Lord would call me to salvation.
     Perhaps the greatest blessing in my life came when my mother taught me to read and pray the Psalms.  She had fallen into a deep depression after losing my baby sister who only lived for 14 hours.  Little Rebecca Hess was born too soon and there were no neonatal units in those days.  My mother had to be hospitalized and unfortunately, anti-depressants were not prevalent at that time.  Instead, the doctor treating my mother suggested reading the Psalms and praying them before retiring each evening.
This helped my mother ultimately recover from her loss.
     During the turbulent teen years, I found myself reading the Psalms, praying them and even singing them to tunes I made up.  This was a comfort to me when I felt upset over something.  Again, this was a simple thing my mother shared with me, but it had a profound effect upon my life.  To this day, singing scripture and especially the Psalms gives me peace of heart and mind.
     Both of my parents loved singing the hymns of the faith as well.  This became even more evident to me when they purchased an organ for the household to use.  There were color coded stickers for the keys to assist my father who had once played violin so he could learn to play the organ.  In the evening, I remember him playing "Sweet Hour of Prayer" which was one of his favorites.  Again, this recollection is a sweet reminder of my father's faith.  These are the things I want to pass on to my grandchildren.  They are joyful memories of a godly heritage.
     Scripture teaches plainly that we are to teach our children and grandchildren the truths of God's Word.  Deuteronomy 6:4-9 reads:  "Hear O Israel:  The Lord our God, the Lord is one.  You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might.  And these words that I command you today shall be on your heart.  You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house and when you walk by the way, and when you lie down and when you rise.  You shall bind them as a sign on your hand, and they shall be as frontlets between your eyes.  You shall write them on the door posts of your house and on your gates."  This command brings with it blessings from God.  I am the fruit of a household that did simple things which always pointed me to the Lord.
     As we approach Mother's Day this Sunday, we need to remember that faith begins at home doing
Grandsons: Gavin, Aiden, Briggs and Branson...missing
are Beckett and Bennett
the simple things like saying grace at meals, reading the Bible together, singing Psalms, hymns and making spiritual music, teaching children the catechism of the faith, going to church together as a family and making time to eat together.  There isn't anything complicated.  It is a lifestyle, a godly heritage which we have the privilege to pass along with joy to our children and grandchildren.  When they see us worshipping God in reverence and living our faith daily, they will also have pegs by example on which to hang their faith.
     I admit that I miss my mother who left for her heavenly home in January of 2000, but her legacy of faith and love lives on.  When I stroked the cheek of our granddaughter Rilyn to help soothe her back to sleep, I could not help but think of my mother doing the same for me.  If we are concerned about the next generation of Christian leaders, we must remember that it begins at home with the simple things as we pass along, with joy, a godly heritage.  Selah!

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